Kickstarter is a marvellous thing, which I seriously believe has brought about a Golden Age in gaming. Not everyone agrees that you should pay in advance for games, and neither should you have to. But, because some people do, everybody else gets to buy the game later, on line or in their Friendly Local Games Shop.
And the games! Kickstarter lets publishers reach a small but widely distributed audience to: reissue old classics, like 7th Sea, Feng Shui or Unknown Armies; share novel and “small press” games much more widely, like Sol and Microscope; and, break out beyond domestic markets like Symbaroum, Coriolis, and Western.
It can be habit forming though, so visit the Kickstarter website with some trepidation. I have so far managed to avoid losing money – I stayed well clear of Far West for example, even though it seemed attractively designed. A well-run campaign should be relatively modest. Watching the Call of Cthulhu 7 car crash from a safe distance was morbidly fascinating. (An honourable mention must go to Moon Design for stepping in like first-responder fire-fighters as the new management of Chaosium, to save the game, and the company.)
Today’s question is “What has been the best run RPG Kickstarter you have backed?” The obvious one might be “the one that made the most money, and delivered” which would be 7th Sea. But I don’t actually like the new edition of that game, so that’s not my nomination. I only backed for PDFs, and my reward included every PDF of the first edition that exists so I hold no grudges. I also have to mention Evil Hat’s Fate Campaign, which I didn’t back, so I can’t include here.
I can’t choose just campaign though. Well, as you’ll see, I can, but I want to shout out to some others along the way. So here are my top three KS publishers:
3. Atlas Games: I bought Feng Shui 2 and Unknown Armies from these guys. Between the two shipping costs rose astronomically. Feng Shui 2 was shipped (beautifully hand-packed I recall) from the states. But I couldn’t afford the shipping on Unknown Armies. They listened to their non-US backers though and came up with a solution late in the day. The products are beautiful. If they had planned better distribution from the outset, they might be higher up the list.
2. Bully Pulpit: for Night Witches and The Warren. I only got PDFs from these guys, but they were beautiful PDFs. And on-time, early even. No fuss. If I’d experienced the print product they might top this list.
And the winner is:
1. Fria Ligan: for Coriolis. Working in partnership with Modiphius for worldwide distribution. They communicated well throughout the campaign and production and made some damn fine products to boot. I admire their KS tactics. Not too many stretch goals, nor too many backer levels, and neither too many nor too diverse rewards. They are Keeping It Simple, Stupid. Doing what they are good at, designing games, not wasting time on all the “Kickstarter Exclusive” ephemera like Mugs, Tee-Shirts, or even custom dice. The antithesis of Call of Cthulhu or Invisible Sun. /rant mode: Invisible bloody Sun, riddle me this Monte Cooke – you design a game for the modern time-poor adult player, who can’t get round a table as often as s/he’d like, and you end up with a hundreds of dollars basic set, that comes with all sorts of shit that you can only use round a table? /rant over.
Positivity restored – Fria Ligan followed up Coriolis with Tales from the Loop, five time Ennie Award winner, so they must be doing something right. Interestingly, this Swedish publisher only offered a Swedish language version of the game as a stretch goal (which, of course they easily attained).